Jennifer L RichardsNovember 12, 2010
Juvenile crimes are usually represented as a large proportion in a community. To minimize the situation, the juvenile justice system created different types of rehabilitation programs eager to assist juveniles in becoming more susceptible to future criminal activities. Patience and hope is the forefront of our juvenile justice system. As a community come together to help prevent juvenile crime, our juvenile justice system had an astonishing decrease in juvenile crime since 1999. Unfortunately, many juvenile offenses go unreported and thus do not become a part of the national statistical picture (OJJDP). Even though in 1999, U.S. juvenile courts processed an estimated 1,673,000 delinquency cases that involved juveniles charged with criminal law violations (Stahl, pg. 1, 2001). The reason for this trend is estimated to be the risk factors that affect juveniles such as drugs, mental defects, extreme poverty, over exposure to violence, an easy access to firearms, violence in media (movies, etc), an unstable family life with family violence, gang violence, and other delinquent peers to which they subject themselves.Today, nineteen percent of all juveniles arrested in 2007 were handled within the police department and then released. Seventy percent of arrested juveniles were referred to juvenile court (OJJDP). Most crimes committed by juveniles are caused by males. More than three of every four (76%) delinquency cases in 1999 involved a male, a decline from 81% in 1990. In 1999, males accounted for 84% (160,800) of drug law violation cases, 76% (537,900) of property offense cases, 75% (293,000) of public order offense cases, and 73% (282,800) of person offense cases. So the question being asked here is, ?How can the juvenile justice system prevent such trends and what programs work to reduce recidivism amongst juveniles??
Reducing Juvenile Recidivism with Sanctions
According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, (also known as OJJDP) report and Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report, ?There is no national recidivism rate for juveniles. Such a rate would not have much meaning since juvenile justice systems vary so much across states (OJJDP). High profile?often very violent?incidents tend to shape public perceptions of juvenile offending. Juvenile justice systems have widely adopted risk assessment instruments to support judicial and administrative decisions about sanctioning severity and restrictiveness of care (Juvenile Assessments). It is important for the public, the media, elected officials, and juvenile justice professionals to have an accurate view of (1) the crimes committed by juveniles, (2) the proportion and characteristics of youth involved in law-violating behaviors, and (3) trends in these behaviors. This understanding can come from studying victim reports, juvenile self-reports of offending behavior, and official records (Snyder, Sickmund, pg. 63). The main aim of community corrections is to make it possible for juvenile offenders to receive additional help via local, city, or county level programs for treatment and assistance rather than prison. The main goals of community sanctions include facilitating juvenile offender reintegration, fostering juvenile offender rehabilitation, providing an alternative range of juvenile offender punishments, and heightening juvenile offender accountability. The general purpose of an officer working to assist in a community sanction is: to establish criteria for selecting work sites for offenders ordered to perform community service; to design an intensive supervision program; to devise a means of reducing crowding in a local jail; or to propose a set of sentencing guidelines for the use of community sanctions. ?Sanctions? are the official responses levied or imposed by the criminal justice system on persons convicted of crimes (Harris, Pgs 3-4).Rehabilitation is one of the major goals of any community sanctioned program. Sanctions may be assigned for the purposes of punishment, treatment, public protection, deterrence, or a variety of other aims. The types of rehabilitations can be separated by age groups, diverse backgrounds, addictions such as drugs and alcohol, or learning disabilities (including educational deficiencies).
Community sanctions have major functions to assist in juvenile offender punishments which include client monitoring and supervision, ensuring public safety, employment assistance, individual/group counseling, education training and literacy services, networking with other community agencies and businesses, and alleviating jail and prison overcrowding. The means to have an alternative outlet for a non-violent offender is better than sending them into the prison. Even though there are significant changes in the way immediate sanctions work, they are great opportunities for the juvenile. There are different types of intermediate sanctions depending on the circumstances of the offender. There are diversion programs which are commonly referred to as a ?front door? program because the goal is to limit the number of juvenile offenders attempting to enter prison. This program is generally used for low risk offenders who want to substitute their time. The juvenile offender can spend this time in either a halfway home for drugs, sex crimes, or alcohol abuse that contributed to their crime or a type of boot camp usually consistent with military programs. If the juvenile offender accepts that responsibility and rules of the program, there is a possible opportunity to be released completely back into the community. You also have the enhancement programs for juvenile offenders. It consists of previously sentenced probationers and parolees and punishes them to closer supervision in the community instead of having them on basic parole and probation. There is an understanding that there are some who oppose community sanctions. This may include public resistance to locating community programs in communities, punishment and public safety versus the juvenile offender rehabilitation and reintegration, net-widening, the privatization of community sanctions agencies, and services delivery. Some neighborhoods just can not accept the fact that community sanctions can be helpful than hurtful. There is also the NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) syndrome where some neighborhoods believe that community sanctions should not be in communities. But as you know, there are always pros and cons of any situation dealing with change. Intermediate sanctions are subject to ridicule. Most communities feel that offenders need to get the help but not in their community. Without the support of legislature and communities, most juvenile offenders have no way of getting the help needed and may be sentenced to prison/jail on the account of bad judgments. While sentenced to an intermediate sanction, a juvenile offender can latch on to other juvenile offenders with the same problems and cause conflict once released only because the juvenile offender continues to associate with unruly peers. You also have those technical violations that flood the courts and desks of probation officers. According to Byrne, Lurigio, and Baird, ISP?s are suppose to alleviate prison overcrowding and avoid the costs of building and sustaining prisons and prevent the stultifying and stigmatizing effect of imprisonment. Also ISP?s are expected to promote public safety through surveillance strategies, while promoting a sense of responsibility and accountability through probation fees, restitution, and community service activities. Of course this generates issues regarding ISP programs in reducing recidivism, diverting offenders from prison, and ensuring public safety (Latessa). In order for ISP?s to work, the program needs to make drastic changes and/or scrap the programs and start new.
Correctional Options: Incapacitation or Community Supervision
Community sanctions are very important to have in today?s society but most juveniles spend time in a juvenile prison. Correctional options are classified as community supervision and/or incarceration. One of the main questions being asked is, ?Does these programs reach the goals needed to deter a juvenile from future criminal behavior?? I do agree that they do. To get a better understanding of what the two programs offer, we need to explain them in detail. Let us begin to explore the terms of incarceration, punishment, deterrence, and incapacitation. With incarceration, a juvenile has no other options but to be detained until released, either through probation/parole or the completion of their sentence. As far as punishment is involved, being incarcerated is the worst punishment and is a simile to incapacitation. Incapacitation is a form of incarceration which may include, but not limited to, the three-strike program and other programs. Now with rehabilitation, there is the option of being supervised within the community such as in a halfway home, in home incarceration (home arrest), and community service programs. This is considered a part of community supervision with boot camps being most popular amongst juveniles. The 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), which was conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, interviewed 9,000 youth who were between the ages of 12 and 16 at year-end 1996 and asked whether or not they had engaged in a variety of deviant or delinquent behaviors (OJJDP). These programs are considered to deter a juvenile delinquent from committing future crimes. With cooperation within these programs, there may be a real solution to the punishment of juveniles.
Most juveniles feel that being incarcerated is the worst type of punishment a person can have but some juveniles go for an easier option. That option is rehabilitation. With so many programs being offered, there is usually a never ending amount of support for drug and alcohol abuse and even juvenile sex offenders. Rehabilitation is also a cost saving measure and can decrease the overpopulation in prisons. Sometimes having other options instead of incarceration may deter the juvenile to do better with themselves. But there is a downside to this also. Some juveniles use the rehabilitation option as a way to get off with an easier sentence and use the services to further their progress as far as gaining job opportunities and other resources. With inconsistencies in most programs, a juvenile who really needs the help may not get that opportunity. This causes these programs to have gaps and may boast the statistical percentages.
What actually makes incarceration and incapacitation similar is that both offer punishment as a measure to committing crimes. The most controversial is the death penalty. Of course juveniles are put to death unless charged as an adult. In some states, it is consider unconstitutional and is banned. With being incapacitated, you may be submitted to hard labor (cooking, cleaning, construction, etc) as a form of your sentence. Chain gangs were very popular and have resurfaced in Alabama recently but have not been allowed by juvenile institutions. With being incarcerated for so long, most juveniles will never commit another crime. The harsh laboring and constant overcrowding in prisons persuades more juveniles not to fall back into their old habits. Deterrence is the main goal incarceration, incapacitation, and punishment is trying to achieve.
What Really Works!
The juvenile justice system will never know what actually works until programs are actually tried. Broad assessments were created to measure criminal behavior among juveniles. These assessments were carefully coined meta-analysis. Researchers study the growing research material to examine and compare the difference amongst groups for comparisons of treatment and control groups. Many juveniles are put in a program that does not meet their background requirements which can increase recidivism. Mark Lipsey (1992) examined 443 studies that focused on interventions or treatments designed to reduce, prevent, or treat delinquency or other antisocial behavior problems similar to juvenile delinquency. Programs seem to work best when they are new, when their subjects are amenable to treatment in the first place, and when the counselors are not only trained people, but ?good people? as well (Ted Palmer and Robert Martinson, 1975). Lipsey also stated that, ?In 64.3 percent of the studies he examined, the treatment group did better (in most cases this finding refers to a reduction in recidivism) than the control group. Considering all treatment program studies combined, 45 percent of those who received treatment were expected to recidivate, in comparison with 50 percent of the nontreated control group. (Treatment Programs)? Overall, Lipsey?s meta-analysis indicated that the more effective programs provided larger amounts of meaningful contact and were longer in duration, offered behavioral, skill oriented, and multimodal treatment, or were designed by a researcher or had research as an influential component of the treatment setting. Now it is also important to have a trained staff on hand who at least knows the background of the program or was once an offender themselves who reverted from those ways. It puts the juvenile in a standpoint of wanting to change and influencing others to do the same. Palmer (page 372) believed that the direction of intervention has resulted from skeptics and supporters by: having programs with multiple modalities used; have intensity of contacts increased in most programs; have greater attention paid to offenders? needs and characteristics so that they can be matched with those particular program elements.
The S T A R program is one of those many programs that actually helps deter an offender into future crimes. The program is designed for at-risk students to reduce juvenile offenses and referrals to the office for disciplinary problems ? in the end also improving academic performance (S T A R). Right now the program is administered in Texas, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Alabama. In the short period of time it has been implemented, the program continues to grow and has been celebrated for have a very good success rate. Mostly every program has repeat offenders but that is no reason why they should be given up on. ?It?s beneficial on each level. Parents are asking for the programs, administrators are making the recommendations and students are quickly learning the importance of behaving. There are some students who do repeat the programs, but the same level of intensity are used to help that student continue to grow? (S T A R).Some other ways to prevent juvenile crime is to just get involved. The first step should start at home and in the community. Juveniles need a more secure outlook amongst family and friends before destroying their lives and winding down the road to delinquency. Although much can be done to prevent child delinquency from escalating into chronic criminality, the most successful interventions to date have been isolated and unintegrated with other ongoing interventions. In fact, only a few well organized, integrated programs designed to reduce child delinquency exist in North America today (Flores, pg 1 2003). Examples of effective interventions include the parent training programs based on Patterson and Gullion?s Living With Children (1968), which are designed to teach adults how to monitor child problem and prosocial behaviors, reward behavior incompatible with problem behavior, and ignore or apply negative consequences to problem behavior. Another example of effective interventions is the parent-training program developed by Webster-Stratton and Hammond (1997), which involves groups of parents in therapist-led discussions of videotaped lessons (Flores, pg 3, 2003). There were also some concepts created on the basis of juveniles and ways to help prevent them from becoming a statistic. These concepts consist of four key words created for the prevention of crime for a juvenile and the ability to turn their life around due to criminal behavior:habilitation, healing, hope, and honor. The concepts were introduced into the juvenile justice system by Bartollas and Miller. They go on to explain that the four interrelated concepts go to the heart of why youths at risk feel alienated from modern society: Habilitation: Habilitation should be achieved within the home before the child leaves their family. It is the process of teaching juveniles that their family should support then but if not achieved in the home, should received that support via school administrators, neighbors and other family members and possibly community organizations. It is the process of enabling or making able the juvenile potential into today?s society; Healing: The healing process is a crucial need of juveniles only because youths that are at risk frequently have a long line of painful experiences. The experiences plague a child to have negative emotions. In order for a juvenile to have the desire to heal, it starts within themselves; Hope: Hope or the feeling of hopelessness is what plagues a juvenile also. Hope gives juveniles the ability to anticipate reasons to stay in school, avoid peers that instruct criminal behavior, and avoid drug interactions with other peers; Honor:Mostly every juvenile feel some need to feel the approval of peers. This is one of the reasons most juveniles join gangs. To get a juvenile to feel some sense of honor is to assist them to find ways to be socially acceptable to others and themselves.
Even though there are plenty of programs accessible for juvenile use, some programs do work better than others. The focus here is prevention. Juvenile have an option to prevent future harm to themselves by changing their outcome. One program that works very well is cognitive behavioral therapy. This process can reduce recidivism in both juveniles and adults. The main focus of the program is to get the juvenile to become more conscious and cautious of their thoughts and behaviors and make the necessary positive steps for their future. In most cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs, most juveniles have improved drastically in problem solving, self-efficacy, self-control, and moral reasoning. After Lipsey examined the different interventions, from 1958 to 2002, there were 548 studies grouped into seven categories: Counseling, deterrence, discipline, multiple coordinated services, restorative programs, skill building, and surveillance (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). After careful consideration, Lipsey found that programs based on punishment and deterrence alone, increased criminal recidivism. The greatest impact in reducing recidivism was approaches concerning skill building, counseling and multiple services. Now Jennifer Pealer and Edward Latessa found some information on F. T. Cullen (2002) which based CBT with five basic principles of effective interventions: human service principle, the risk principle, the need principle, the responsivity, principle, and program integrity principle. Human service principle states that if correctional programs want to reduce recidivism, some type of treatment must be delivered instead of punishment, the risk principle stated the programming should be matched to the risk level of the offender and higher risk offenders should receive more intensive programming for longer periods of time to reduce their risk of reoffending, the need principle stated that programs should assess and target criminogenic needs, responsivity principle states that while offenders have different learning styles, programs based on cognitive behavioral and social learning theories are the most effective in reducing criminal behavior, and program integrity identifies certain characteristics of effective programs which result in reductions in recidivism ranging from 10 to 30 percent, example: programs should be behavioral and intensive in nature (Pealer and Latessa pgs. 16-3-16-5). Basically what is being stated here is that certain principles can and will result in a significant reduction in recidivism.
Financing a Future
Even though the juvenile justice system is trying to find ways to rehabilitate a child from committing offenses, the system is also trying to find ways to finance rehabilitation sanctions. With so many great programs out there, funding is a major concern for most. From recent research, these programs are cheaper to function than prison. One of the reasons this is true is because the offender can also work to pay restitution to a victim and pay the fees associated with probation supervision but the offender needs to know that he will be subject to urine and alcohol testing or even electronic monitoring that post curfew restrictions. Depending on the program offered in a community, the programs vary. Many people believe that rehabilitation is the only way to deter a juvenile but does not know how these programs are financed. Funds are limited but most people believe everyone should pitch in on the money woes of rehabilitation. Polling data released by the Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) show that more than 70 percent of the general public agree that incarcerating youthful offenders without rehabilitation is the same as giving up on them. The Center also reported that nine out of 10 people surveyed believe that “almost all youth who commit crimes have the potential to change.” (CCLP)
— Eight in 10 favor reallocating state government funds from incarceration to programs that provide help and skills to enable youth to become productive citizens (CCLP poll).
— More than eight in 10 said that providing community-based programs and services — including education, job skills, mentoring, mental health treatment, counseling, and community service — is an effective way to rehabilitate youth (CCLP poll).
— Those surveyed were more willing to pay additional taxes for rehabilitation than they are for incarceration (ADJJ research).
— The average amount in additional annual taxes that respondents are willing to pay for rehabilitation is almost 20% greater than it is for incarceration (ADJJ research).
Major changes are going to have to occur and whether taxpayers like it or not, more money will have to be spent in order to secure a positive future. This country?s future depends on our youth population and every effort should be put forth to allow youthful offenders to be rehabilitated (McConnell, 2006). It is possible that intermediate sanctions can alleviate the overcrowding in prisons and offer second chances. It is possible that intermediate sanctions may work for one offender and not another. And it is possible that intermediate sanctions can generate a productive future for offenders. But in order to achieve these, the community needs to accept the offender into their community. Rehabilitation is crucial to the complete process and release of the offender.
Rehabilitation has been around for years and rehabilitating a juvenile has increased. It is possible that the programs administered will also have an increase of juveniles and there will be new programs popping up around the country. We know that juveniles are committing crimes at a lower rate than before but it is up to the community, schools and the families to support them. Without support, they will re-offend and end up in our adult system. We must intervene now for the prevention process of juvenile crime. It is also possible that intermediate sanctions can alleviate the overcrowding in prisons and offer second chances. It is possible that intermediate sanctions may work for one juvenile and not another. And it is possible that intermediate sanctions can generate a productive future for juveniles. But in order to achieve these, the community needs to accept the offender into their community. Rehabilitation is crucial to the complete process and release of the juvenile. What we as adults are beginning to understanding is that the prevention of juvenile crime consists of more family involvement. There should be more parents being assertive in a juvenile?s life than passive. Ask questions when necessary and let the juvenile know that you support then 100 percent. Have boundaries when allowing a juvenile to interact with peers and meet those peers. If possible, make the initiative to meet other parents and socialize in the community for the well-being of your child and other children. Having that family support is often a forefront to prevention of future trends for criminal behavior for juveniles.
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